Sermon Notes & References

Blessed Fellowship

Psalm 84

May 31, 2020

1.  Scripture Reading

     a.  Psalm 84 in the Authorised Version

     b.  About the Hebrew Language

2.  An Appetite for God

     a.  Verse 1 Footnote

     b.  Verse 2 Footnote

     c.  Verse 3

     d.  Verse 4

3.  The Blessing of Attending His House

     a.  Verses 5-7

     b.  Verse 8

4.  Expressions of Faith

     a.  Verse 9

     b.  Verse 10 Footnote

     c.  Verse 11

     d.  Verse 12


Endnote  Psalm 84 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Blessed Fellowship

 

1.  Scripture Reading

     a.  Psalm 84 in the Authorised Version

          i.   1 To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.

          ii.  How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. 3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God. 4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.                  Selah.

          iii.  5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. 6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. 8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob.                              Selah.

          iv. 9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. 10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. 12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

 

     b.  About the Hebrew Language

          i.   in general, words in Hebrew have a much greater breadth of meaning than those in English

          ii.  often then, they can be translated into English in more than one way

          iii.  so, to get a better feeling for the meaning of this Psalm, we shall read the verses again in the New American Standard Version as we study it

          iv. who wrote this psalm & when, we are not told by either its contents or title, “For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.”

          v.  but it is instructive for us as to what true fellowship is all about:

 

2.  An Appetite for God

     a.  Verse 1: How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O Lord of hosts!

          i.   some commentators state that the subject of this Psalm is the temple at times of gathering for the rituals of Passover, Pentecost & Trumpets

          ii.  but they seem to miss that the focus throughout the psalm is on God

                (1) this is seen in all the variations on God’s name & titles as well as the terms used to describe God

                (2) and that the consuming desire of the writer is to be where God is

                (3) yes, that describes the temple, for God placed His Name on it, symbolic of His presence there – but He is not only there

          iii.  for in fact, the word ‘tabernacles’ or ‘dwelling places’ is plural

                (1) some translations incorrectly render it in the singular

                (2) because there was only one tabernacle or temple

                (3) and while it consisted of two parts: the Holy place and the Holy of Holies, it was only the latter that God was said to dwell

                (4) so the plural has another implication: the tabernacles here are any and every place where God dwells, where He meets His people

                (5) and in that senses it may be said to anticipate, or be prophetic of, the church of Jesus Christ: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)

 

     b.  Verse 2: “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”

          i.   note again that courts is in the plural: there was only one court in the tabernacle-temple structures, but as Solomon prayed at the temple’s dedication: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27)

          ii.  C. S. Lewis, commenting on these verses gave us our title for this section: “An appetite for God’

                (1) before a person comes to Jesus Christ, he has no such appetite

                (2) but only when by the Holy Spirit works this in him, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

          iii.  the psalmist’s longing and yearning are not momentary but continuing

                (1) they existed in the past; they exist in the present

                (2) this hunger does not fade because God is infinite: the more we know Him, the more we desire to be with Him to know even more

          iv. we have watered down the term fellowship to be a social occasion

                (1) our gathering together with people of like faith and interests

                (2) but fellowship is first of all to be with God: “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

                (3) John wrote those words that our joy may be full, and the psalmist expresses it in a similar fashion, if I may paraphrase his words, “My whole body and being cries out in joy unto the living God.”

 

     c.  Verse 3: “The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Thine altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God.”

          i.   the interpreters have a field day with this verse

                (1) some using it to show that the temple had now been destroyed – but that is not so, for its destruction left no such altars

                (2) some allegorically that the ‘bird’ is the psalmist himself

          ii.  but this is just another expression in poetic form that God satisfies

                (1) supplying even the needs of His natural creation

                (2) as Jesus also taught in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 6:25ff)

                (3) so God will keep on satisfying those who hunger for Him

          iii.  giving rise to the praise, “My King and my God”, which goes on in

 

     d.  Verse 4: “How blessed are those who dwell in Thy house! They are ever praising Thee. Selah.”

          i.   the focus definitely now turns to the house of God, the temple

                (1) and, note that it is not destroyed, but peopled with priests, the Levites, its gate-keepers (the Korah family), and so on

                (2) whose service is the continuing worship of God

          ii.  their blessed fellowship is their participation together in worship

                (1) that is what we have been missing during this COVID-19 crisis

                (2) because watching on TV or the internet does not express our praise in the same intensity as when we unite together as His body

          iii.  Selah: a musical term, probably calling for a pause or interlude in the music – a time for us to think on what was just said.

 

3.  The Blessing of Attending His House

     a.  Verses 5-7: 5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; In whose heart are the highways to Zion! 6 Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring, The early rain also covers it with blessings. 7 They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion.

          i.   the psalmist now turns to those who are indeed on a pilgrimage to the physical house of God – the temple in Zion – in order to join with the residents of that house in worship

          ii.  these verse cannot be broken apart, for they consist of a number of loosely connected statements which together form a word picture

                (1) it depicts a congregation on its way to church, as it were

                (2) the Hebrew alternates between the individual and the group

                (3) for the character of the group is determined by its individuals

          iii.  that character is one of faith:

                (1) he finds his strength in God, not in himself

                (2) his religious walk to approach God, to encounter the Lord arises from a heart that longs to be on the highway headed to Zion

                (3) the way is not easy

                     (a) on the way is the valley of Baca, apparently a hot, arid place

                     (b) as describes the Jordan valley road to Jerusalem

                (4) but God saw their purpose in going, and turned hardship into joy

                     (a) that dry place became a spring

                     (b) the early rain of October to December refreshed the ground

                     (c) interestingly, ‘blessings’ in Hebrew can also mean ‘pools’

                     (d) which was especially appropriate in the land of Israel

          iv. so the saints on their way to worship God

                (1) do so because they are strong in God

                (2) and grow stronger as they go on their way

                (3) until each one appears or, literally, is seen before God

 

     b.  Verse 8: “O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.”

          i.   the psalmist’s prayer coincides with that of the arriving individual

                (1) for these pilgrims are like-minded with himself as he expressed in

                (2) verse 2: “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”

          ii.  Selah: now they are there; pause; think about it; rejoice in it.

 

4.  Expressions of Faith

     a.  Verse 9: “Behold our shield, O God, And look upon the face of Thine anointed.”, or, the one you have anointed as our king

          i.   the prayer expresses their needs, an expression of faith

                (1) “look at our defence, look at our human leader”

                (2) and discern that they are weak even as we are weak

          ii.  as Israel needed God’s help; so the visible church needs it today

 

     b.  Verse 10: “For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God, Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

          i.   in a few words the psalmist contrasts what really matters for him:

                (1) being in the presence of God – even if it be only for a single day is worth far more to his being than a thousand days anywhere else

                (2) being the humblest servant in the place identified by God’s Name is worth far more than being in a place where God is not present, as made obvious by the evil that exists there

          ii.  furthermore, the implication is that the things that seem so desirable to people of this world are nothing compare to a taste of God: “O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalms 34:8)

 

     c.  Verse 11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

          i.   this is a statement of assured faith – it is God’s answer to prayer

                (1) He as sun is the source of our life

                (2) He as a shield protects that life (an answer to verse 9)

                (3) He by His unmerited favour in Christ has destined us for glory

                (4) He supplies us richly with every good thing

          ii.  so the encouragement is that we be found as individuals in the group of those walking the path that leads us to fellowship with Himself

 

     d.  a final encouragement, verse 12: “O Lord of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!”

          i.   may each one of us so desire God, His blessed fellowship, as described in this psalm: so at put all of our trust in Him

          ii.  so that we go from strength to strength through the present hard time.